On Monday night, it was my pleasure to lead a Q&A with composer Michael Giacchino after a Society of Composers & Lyricists screening of his latest film, War for the Planet of the Apes, on the 20th Century-Fox lot. It is Giacchino’s second film in the Apes series (after Dawn, in 2014) and his fourth film with director Matt Reeves (the Apes movies, Let Me In and Cloverfield). The composer reported that 90% of the score — played by a massive orchestra and choir on the Fox scoring stage — was original, and he even came with props: the mixing bowl used by percussionist Emil Richards on Jerry Goldsmith’s original 1968 Planet of the Apes, and a ram’s horn that he played himself on both of his Apes scores.
Attending Michael Giacchino’s recording sessions for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was probably the most fun I’ve had in months. Giacchino is not just a fine composer, he also maximizes the “joy” factor in everything he does, including the scoring sessions (which can often, in today’s studio environment, be pressure-filled and stressful). I wrote about them, including interviews with the composer, director Matt Reeves, and veteran percussionist Emil Richards, here. Michael’s sister Maria supplied the fabulous photos.
“Old man, how is it that you hear these things?” “Young man, how is it that you do not?” For the David Carradine series of the 1970s, composer Jim Helms (1933-1991) created some of the most evocative and mystical music in TV history. Helms himself was something of a cipher, known within Hollywood musical circles and to those with whom he worked… but not to the world at large. I interviewed flutist Sheridon Stokes, keyboardist Mike Lang and percussionist Emil Richards, who played on many of the scores, as well as fellow songwriter Gary LeMel and series producer Alex Beaton. This CD was derived from the 1973 LP, a rare instance in which music and dialogue actually work well together. (I recall reading the Kung Fu book and being furious that there was no mention anywhere of the music, clearly one of the crucial factors that made it so memorable. In this booklet, I attempted to redress this grievance. I even discovered a portrait of Helms from the 1960s that art director Joe Sikoryak improved upon.)